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Church Life Articles

  • Octavio Esqueda — 

    La compasión debe ser sentimiento esencial de aquellos que se dicen seguidores de Jesucristo. La palabra compasión significa “sufrir juntos” y es un sentimiento que se manifiesta al percibir y comprender el sufrimiento de los demás y, por lo tanto, produce el deseo de aliviar, reducir o eliminar este sufrimiento. Al ver las noticias, caminar por las calles o simplemente al conversar con personas a nuestro alrededor es fácil darse cuenta que muchas personas están sufriendo por diferentes circunstancias. La tendencia natural y tristemente común incluso en muchos de aquellos que se dicen cristianos es juzgar a los demás y asumir que sus circunstancias negativas son consecuencia de sus malas decisiones. Es fácil amar a los que nos aman y preocuparnos por aquellos que son cercanos a nosotros, pero una marca central de Jesús y sus seguidores debe ser amar y tener compasión por todos sin importar quienes son o qué han hecho ...

  • The Good Book Blog — 

    Dr. Matt Williams (Professor of Biblical & Theological Studies) recently released a new DVD Bible study series titled The Forgiveness of Jesus (a DVD Bible study, in the Deeper Connections series). We were able to catch up with Dr. Williams to learn more about this exciting series ...

  • Octavio Esqueda — 

    En este año se celebra alrededor del mundo los 500 años del inicio de lo que se conoce como La Reforma protestante. El 31 de octubre de 1517 el monje agustino Martín Lutero clavó en la puerta de la Iglesia del Castillo en Wittenberg en Alemania 95 tesis en las que criticaba abiertamente las ventas de indulgencias de la iglesia católica romana. Lutero escogió ese día deliberadamente ya que era la víspera del Día de Todos los Santos y tanto la facultad de la universidad como muchos fieles asistían a la iglesia. Lutero inicialmente no tenía la intención de romper con la iglesia romana sino enfatizar la supremacía del evangelio de Cristo basada en su simplicidad y a la vez en su gran profundidad ...

  • James Petitfils — 

    This summer, as part of my participation in Talbot’s Kern Foundation reading group, I had the opportunity to travel to Grand Rapids and attend a 4-day think tank called Acton University. This was my first time participating in a think tank (unless you count my years watching MacGyver problem-solve for the Phoenix Foundation), and it was an experience! The annual event brings together around 1000 scholars, students, businesspeople, and leaders from over 75 countries and seeks to provide “an opportunity to deepen one’s knowledge and integrate philosophy, theology, business, development – with sound, market based, economics” (http://university.acton.org/). The daily program consisted of several parallel presentations (in fact, Talbot’s own Dr. Scott Rae was a presenter), a fabulous dinner designed to foster new relationships and stimulate conversations, and it closed each night with a plenary talk ...

  • James Petitfils — 

    I saw something amazing this June. Something rare. Something inspiring. It happened behind-the-scenes at Hume Lake Christian Camps and I simply had to move it from backstage and into to the spotlight. Before I showcase this beautiful sight, let me provide a couple paragraphs of context: As part of Talbot’s Kern Reading group this year, I’ve had the joy of reading (and re-reading) several thought-provoking texts on work, leadership, economics, poverty relief, and the relationship of theology and the church to such matters. On this journey, I happily re-read a chapter from one of my favorite books on organizational leadership, Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges’, Lead Like Jesus: Lessons for Everyone from the Greatest Leadership Role Model of All Time (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2005) ...

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    A few years ago I received an email from a former student (now a young pastor) asking some questions about speaking in tongues during corporate worship. Let me excerpt his e-mail and then include my reply (with his permission): Dr. Berding, I am emailing you because I have a question about ‘service of worship’ for the church. Recently I have taken upon myself to work out some position papers on where I stand on a few ecclesiology topics. I have spent time reading from Horton, Grudem, Bloesch, and some of Clowney's works on ecclesiology. However, recently at our corporate worship one of the elders prayed in tongues and this was followed by what appeared to be an interpretation. As I have been reading through these books and wrestling with scripture, I have come to wonder if tongues plays a role in corporate worship or not ...

  • David Talley — 

    Overall point: The major battle we face in this life is not what is seen, but what is not seen—Satan is intensely and intentionally opposed to what God is doing. AND the greatest defense we have is not our offense, but rather our dependence. Jesus is prayerful and successful; the disciples are prayerless and careless ...

  • John McKinley — 

    In Part 1, I observed that Christian forgiveness includes several conditions leading to reconciliation of a relationship that was violated by one person sinning against another. Jesus’ commands that the person wronged must “show him his fault” (Matt 18:15) as the first condition, to be followed by his repentance, and then we may respond by forgiving him. Common Christian talk about forgiveness tends not to include the necessity of repentance; consequently, many Christians attempt forgiveness and yet fail to live in it. Along with this claim that repentance is necessary to forgiveness, I am aware of the need for at least four caveats ...

  • John McKinley — 

    The problem I notice is that many times Christians have ongoing difficulty in forgiving those who have wronged them. The strain may go on for many years even as they keep trying to forgive. They frequently assume that there is something wrong with them as being hardhearted and otherwise unloving. They fault themselves for not being able to forgive others. Perhaps these unforgiving Christians are trying to do something that God has not called them to do. Perhaps one-sided forgiveness is actually impossible in the absence of a necessary condition for forgiveness ...

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    For many years I have been curious about a Roman governor known to us from history as Pliny the Younger. My interest initially arose because I resided for four years in one of the principal cities he governed—not to mention that one of my four daughters was born in that city. Moreover, since I have expended significant effort studying the writings of the earliest Christian authors after the period of the apostles (those authors known as the “Apostolic Fathers”), I continue to be intensely interested in learning anything I possibly can about the lives of Christians who lived during the first half of the second century ...

  • Dave Keehn — 

    Summer movies are often the stories of heroes; whether real-life or Marvel®, both are super. These stories inspire as they entertain us. The problem is, most of the time, we are content with letting someone else be the hero. We are too busy, too passive, too self-absorbed, or too afraid of what would happen if we got involved; and so the people around us stay unknown to us and do not receive the help they need. The result is preconceived biases that isolate us from one another and a lack of care and compassion for those who need a place of refuge and relief ...

  • Scott Rae — 

    All legitimate work in the world has intrinsic value and God calls men and women to be faithful in working in various arenas as their service to Him. Of course, there are some limits to this, since it would difficult to see how God could call someone to produce pornography or engage in the illegal drug trade. But excluding those exceptions, God calls people to work in business, not only because of what it accomplishes, but because it has value in and of itself to God. Business is the work of God in the world in the same way that being a pastor is the work of God in the church and in the same way that missionary service is the work of God on the mission field. All have value to God because of the value of the work done, and that work is an intrinsically good thing that has value as it's done with excellence ...

  • Octavio Esqueda — 

    Cada vez estoy más convencido que ser un “trabajador obsesivo” es la adicción más común entre las personas que están en el ministerio cristiano. Evidentemente esta condición se presenta entre todas las personas sin importar su ocupación o religiosidad. De hecho en inglés el término “workaholic” ya forma parte del vocabulario común ya que representa una realidad cada vez más presente en nuestras sociedades. Pero es fácil convertirse en un trabajador obsesivo y disfrazar esta situación con piedad y buenas intenciones. De la misma manera es muy atractivo sumergirse en el trabajo y echarle la culpa a Dios o a la obra de Dios como excusa por esta situación ...

  • Dave Keehn — 

    Job interviews are a nerve-wracking ordeal. The feeling of being out of control regarding one’s future leads to subservient postures in relationships. This was the situation the Moabite, Ruth, found herself in after returning with her mother in-law to Bethlehem (Ruth 1). However, in this amazing Biblical narrative is a posture of grace-seeking that is reminiscent of our seeking God; it is the God-action of finding favor in others that we should model in our working relationships ...

  • Joe Hellerman — 

    Many persons in vocational Christian service got their start by working with young people. Youth ministry is great preparation for future service in other capacities. But it is much more than that. Youth pastors have the potential to impact the world for Christ in a powerful way, because young people often make important decisions about their future lives under the influence of church mentors and student ministries workers ...

  • Dave Keehn — 

    Where does inspiration come from? Where does the motivation to use one’s gifts and passions to make a difference begin? Jane Goodall said, “What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” Are we the source of action or does that spark come from something else? I would like to propose God is the beginning of movements that bring change; history is the record of mankind’s response to the divine prompting ...

  • Karin Stetina — 

    What is my purpose in life? This is a question that plagues each and every one of us. The Westminster confession puts the question this way: "What is the chief and highest end of man?" Countless books and blogs have addressed this question. But are we really asking the right question? ...

  • The Good Book Blog — 

    Kenneth Berding (Professor of New Testament at Talbot School of Theology) recently wrote and published The Apostolic Fathers: A Narrative Introduction. We wanted to learn more about this book, so we had Ken respond to some questions ...

  • Joe Hellerman — 

    Is the church here to help me to grow in Christ as an individual? Or has God put me here to help the church grow both qualitatively and quantitatively? The easy answer is “Both!” And that’s not completely wrong. But the early Christians clearly prioritized the health and growth of God’s community over the goals and desires of individual believers. This group-first mentality is not only characterized the early church, it characterized family life throughout the ancient Mediterranean world. This is why families arranged marriages. The goal of marriage in the ancient world was the not relational satisfaction of the individuals involved. It was the honor and ongoing viability of the two families who brokered the marriage. The group — in this case the family — came first ...

  • Mark Saucy — 

    The recent welcome of Evangelical radio apologist, “The Bible Answer Man” —Hank Hanegraaff, into the Greek Orthodox Church has understandably raised more than eyebrows. Questions about the differences between Protestants and Orthodox have been coming my way in the aftermath, so I want to offer to Good Book Blog readers an essay I wrote for Talbot’s Sundoulos magazine back in 2008. In it you’ll find some general characteristics of the Orthodox denomination as well as key points of difference with Protestants—some of which converts such as Hank Hanegraaff would typically need to renounce as they formally enter Orthodoxy ...

  • John McKinley — 

    Romans 6:5-6 has puzzled me by the statement that the believer has in effect already been crucified with Christ. “For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin.” (nasb) My problem may have been that I viewed the crucifixion of my “old self” as having been accomplished entirely in the past, at my conversion. We are to “consider [ourselves] to be dead to sin” (6:11) so that we respond by denying the impulses and attractions to sin that (unfortunately) continue throughout this life. In practice, I have liked the idea of knowing that I am no longer a slave to sin, that I am not obligated to give in to temptations, and that I have a new capability from the Holy Spirit to live as God calls me to do. Is there importance of crucifixion for understanding my present condition? ...

  • John McKinley — 

    As the second part in this post on four protections to create a safe relational space for small groups, here I focus on the fourth condition. This fourth condition has four pieces to it for limiting communication that tends to shut people down. The goal is to be able to accept others as they are, with their true sharing of their real mess in daily life as a Christian. Often we can get in our own way and so fail to love them in this way because we are so busy with the speck of sawdust in their eye. In a sentence, this four-part fourth condition is the log in our eyes that prevents meeting with others.

  • John McKinley — 

    Small talk. Bible study talk. Prayer requests. Sports, kids, and work talk. When and how do we get to meaningful fellowship of sharing with other Christians what God is doing in our lives? Are there conditions in small groups that help people to share their lives with others? Are there conditions that cause people to clam up and stick to the safe details of a public persona? ...

  • Thaddeus Williams — 

    When we say “He is risen. He is risen indeed!” we are not merely stating a remarkable historical fact, not merely expressing our shared doctrine, not merely standing in line with a long tradition of hope. We are doing all of that. But we are doing more. We are joining the great protest chant against all the dehumanization, death, and decay of the present age and heralding, here and now, the subversive breaking in of the glorious age to come in the resurrected Jesus.

  • Thaddeus Williams — 

    What happened on Good Friday is so scandalous and profound that the Bible does not limit itself to a single explanation. Dutch theologian, Herman Bavinck, explains, “[T]he work of Christ is so multifaceted that it cannot be captured in a single word nor summarized in a single formula." “Multifaceted” is exactly the right word for the cross. It brings to mind the image of a giant deep-cut diamond, a unity with a multiple facets, each refracting rays off and through the other. Let’s take one lap around this flawless wonder and look at six things to celebrate this Friday and every day...